New Tunnels Found in the Lawrence Distillery (Bleachers/Beef and Oyster House)

Now one of the main things that was smuggled during the colonial period of Salem was molasses that was used to make rum. Col. Abel Lawrence had built this building which housed his home and distillery in 1809, in the year Jefferson was leaving the presidency and Madison was taking his throne. So things did not change much within this new country of ours…

Abel Lawrence hds many ties to Elias Hasket Derby Junior and the tunnels built throughout the town. Lawrence had owned ships with his father, was commander of the Salem Cadets who helped dig the tunnels, and was the fifth master of the Essex Lodge of Masons. Elias was the 3rd Master of the Lodge and also commanded the Salem Cadets. Plus Lawrence was a member of the Salem Commons Improvement Fund which Derby had put together to disguise his tunnel project.

Abel Lawrence had lived in this building and ran his distillery here. In 1817¬† the rear ell was added to the building. Then in 1822 after his death his kids tore down the front section on Washington Street which housed the distillery and had it rebuilt. Over the years the Salem Athenaeum and the Essex Historical Society that was founded by another Salem Commons Improvement Fund subscriber, Edward Augustus Holyoke, resided in the building . In all of the previous locations in which these institutes resided there were tunnel entrances. Plus¬† Holyoke’s daughter had married Joshua Ward who lived across the street on Washington Street. At the time of its construction the building resided on the South River across from Joshua Ward’s wharf on the location of the old Salem News building.

So now to the pictures. below you will see the various sealed entrances from the tunnels into this building. Enjoy!

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